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How much distance is lost with age?

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There seems to be a steady progression of lost driving distance that comes with age, but I don’t recall ever seeing much actual information on the topic. My curiosity got the best of me, so one day I sat down and tried to figure it out.

I started by looking up the ages and driving distances of 440 players on the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour, Champions Tour, European Tour and European Senior Tour.

Here’s a breakdown of the averages I found in five-year increments, along with a calculation of their estimated average swing speeds based on the average Tour players driving distance efficiency being about 2.57 yard/mph.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 12.16.58 PM

If I break down the numbers in 10-year increments to decades, here’s what I found.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 12.17.28 PM

As expected, we see a decline in distance and club head speed over time. Below are a few points of interest.

  • Pros in their 20’s, and more specifically in their late 20’s, hit the longest drives and swing the fastest.
  • Pros on the main tours (i.e. non-senior tours) in their 30’s are around the tour average in both categories, meaning the guys in their 20s boost both averages and guys in their 40’s bring down the averages.
  • There’s a really sharp decline in speed and distance around age 50. I wonder if there is something psychological at play here. As soon as golfers turn 50 and start playing the “senior” tours, they could start thinking of themselves as older and it could manifest in their play. Who knows.

Since the lowest club head speed for a competitive player on a tour for a player under 50 years old is usually around 104 mph, it makes sense that we don’t see as many guys in their 50s or 60s being competitive on the main tours. But does it have to be like that?

Trackman research shows that when a golfer goes from a 15 handicap to a +5 handicap, there is a correlation of about 1:1 of club head speed to handicap. That means that for every 1 mph increase in clubhead speed, you’ll see about a 1-shot drop in handicap. I suppose that it’s not too far of a stretch to say that as tour players lose club head speed and distance, it becomes more difficult for them to shoot lower scores and be competitive at the highest levels.

Still, there is only about a 10 mph club head speed difference between the guys in the 60-to-69 age category and the main tour average of about 113 mph. In my work as a Swing Speed Trainer, I can definitely tell you it’s possible to add 10 mph of speed to swing through swing speed training. Furthermore, I believe that age is largely a state of mind and if you are willing to put in some work, a great deal of physical capability can be maintained and even increased well in to the latter parts of life. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.”

Related: Three ways to add distance to your drives

The video below of Sam Bright, Jr. is a fine example. It stands to reason that if a senior tour player in his 50s or 60s is still motivated and interested in playing one of the main tours, he could certainly do so with Swing Speed Training.

[youtube id=”iU4yAZobbfI” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Assuming the same regression happens at the amateur level, here’s what those numbers might look like for 14-to-15 handicappers who swing 93.4 mph and hit drives 214 yards when they’re 30-to-39. It could then be said that maintaining this handicap level could also become difficult with age.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 12.22.05 PM

To help combat potential distance and handicap loss with age, I refer you to another article I wrote called “Three ways to longer drives.” As George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

I say to you, get out there and play!

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Jaacob Bowden is a Holistic Lifestyle Entrepreneur and Professional Golfer, keen on exploring golf and life’s broader lessons while offering coaching and swing speed training through JaacobBowden.com and SwingManGolf.com. With a history of driving remarkable golfing achievements, Jaacob intertwines his sport passion with holistic living. His writings reflect this blend, offering readers insights into improving both their game and their lives. Explore JaacobBowden.com and SwingManGolf.com to unlock a new level of golfing prowess and holistic enrichment.

66 Comments

66 Comments

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  5. Advanced French

    Oct 14, 2019 at 11:17 pm

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  6. Bob Hill

    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:23 am

    I manage a group of up to 40 golfers who are in their 60s, 70s, and 80, all of whom mention every round how short the hit the ball compared to 10-20 years ago. I would like to remind the better golfers who build courses, plan tee distance or even put the tee markers in their course at the start of play: players do not move to the seniors tees because they have lost 10 or 20 yards. They move to the senior tees because they have lot 30 to 40 yards off the the tee, and continue to lose as they age. So don’t put the senior tee marker 10 yards in front of the white tee; we consider that an insult.

  7. Jim Hamilton

    Apr 11, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    In 2004, at 61 years old, I won my regional ReMax World Long Drive championship at 355 yards at Riverside in Indianapolis with a clubhead speed of 127 mph. I’m a physicist, and found that efficient long drive swings used both torso rotation and whole-body bending around, most typically, the solar plexus to swing the arms. Both motions generate speed without significant movement of the center of gravity of the body, but like a platform diver, or a falling cat, generate useful motion around the CG. I swung an SMT head on an Accuflex shaft… long-drive specialties. Fast-forward to today, at 74. i just started to play again after illness and am 25 pounds lighter. Clubhead speed is 112 with that same old driver and distance is about 280. With a more appropriate and modern driver and work on flexibility, 300 will come. Injury is the biggest distance loser, and tour pros are most vulnerable. Leading knee twist and lumbar vertebral damage are the result of powerful swings done for decades. My advice: learn to let your forward foot rotate (there is a special golf shoe that does it automatically) on the ground on your all-out drives, and use more lateral bend ( see Mike Dunaway’s DVD) and a little less pure torsion. It makes a big difference. I agree about low T and fast twitch muscles, but injuries are the biggest swing killers.

  8. George Saalmann

    Nov 3, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    I am 76 & I took up golf at 60 by error. With a young family, it was important to bond with them while they were growing up. After my doctor recommended an operation to relieve my back pain, I went to our local driving range, every day for 18 moths. I would hit between 450-500 balls a day. I had blisters, bleeding hands and tore muscles in my back, till I thought I was going to have a heart attack. The golf pro called me a machine gun. Then one day, the Manager came over and said, “Could I please stop hitting over the safety net at the back as you are hitting the homes behind it”. My severe back pain stopped & I realized, I might be able to play golf.
    Now at age 76 I still drive 227 metres. My back pain with regular & moderate exercise every day, Has gone. I have had 3 golf lessons, for a right hander. Which did not help, as being a left hander. However for reason, I play right handed golf. Having read, Ben Hogan’s book on golf has helped heaps.
    Thanks for golf. the exercise & and cameraderie with my golf friends of same age..

    That is when I started to realize .over wanted to operate on my spend time with them In m in th

  9. Tom Horne

    Oct 30, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    I am 80 yrs. young and hit my drives up to 250 yds and 75% of my gaqmes in2015 were uner my age aqt Trickle Creek Golf Course on the blue tees.Love my Callaway clubs.

  10. John

    May 25, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Great article.

    At the 1988 PGA at Oaktree in Edmond Oklahoma, I was 33 years old. I had Contestant’s Family badges as I used to work for a club pro that had played his way into the tournament that year. Those badges gave me access to a PGA Tour operated hitting cage that could measure clubhead speed. I used a persimmon driver with a steel shaft that was provided by the PGA rep (Remember, the first titanium driver, the Big Bertha, didn’t hit the market until 1991). On a dozen swings, I averaged around 112 mph. One swing was 118 mph. The operator told me that my clubhead speed was in the top half of PGA pros. This didn’t really surprise me because at 33 years old, I was 6′ 1″ and a strong and limber 175 pounds. I was lucky enough to live a mile from the golf course and I started playing golf almost every day from the age of 12. I played to a four handicap, hit short irons into all the par fours, and was rarely out-driven.

    Fast forward to 2015 and I am now 60 years old, 210 pounds, can’t touch my toes, and I rarely hit wedges to par fours anymore. My Clubhead speed now is in the 98-102 mph range and that’s with a titanium driver and the graphite shaft. I have one video of me swinging when I was 17 years old and I had just won a junior tournament. I compare that video to my current swing and all I can say is that I’m now watching a fat old man swing that appears to have nothing correct in his swing anymore.

    I showed my young swing to the PGA pro at the club I belong to and he commented “nice swing, is that you?” He then agreed with me that until I lose 20 pounds and gain back some flexibility, my distance is just going to continue to drop. So, all I can say is that this article is spot on. Flexibility is the key to distance, not stength. If it was strength, Arnold Schwarzenegger would hit a ball 500 yards.

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  12. Phil E

    May 2, 2015 at 9:07 am

    UPDATE: The GM at the course I play the most, laughed at me & explained that playing that much golf tears the little muscles in your shoulders akin to lifting weights. He said “Dude give your body a rest & you’ll be fine”. Turns out he was correct. Distance numbers on the course are more in line with what I’m used to.

  13. robert coles

    Apr 30, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Turn 78 this yr [2015] 20 yrs ago played off 3. Now with rotator cuff injury + loss of prostate [less test.] have gone down to 200 yd max drive with roll. Struggling to stay close to 80 on 72 par course.
    good putting and chipping is my only chance to stay in the game. Putting stats = 28 putts / round.
    Swing speed is 85 but playing on kike grass courses well watered have taken its toll on length. Give me the good old days with no course watering [like they still do in UK] and couch fairways. I call course watering of golf course the American disease.

  14. CJaenike

    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Significant drop off from 20s to 40s, while commonplace, is certainly not inevitable. I’ve followed the same (aggressive) workout regimen and level of activity throughout, and my club head speed at 46 (115 mph average, 116 max) is essentially the same as it was at 26 (115, 117 max). I’m average height and weight at 5’10”, 165#, btw. It’s all about putting in the fitness work.

  15. Ron

    Jan 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Interesting article. I had not seen any attempt at this analysis before, although I have wondered about what to expect with age. After a several decades-long hiatus from golf, I started playing again at age 60, so don’t know how my distance changed over time. But I am longer now at 74 than I was as a college player (where I was not particularly long – or even straight) – and that has to be the gains in technology. I may have lost a few yards over this last decade, but not a lot. With a smooth tempo 90-94 mph driver speed, a center-hit still makes me pretty long for my age-group. (And my sense is that center-of-the-club-face is more important to distance then a few mph speed-gain if off-center.) All other things being equal, the 2+ yds per mph off the driver is a good measure to keep in mind – but center-hits are still key. My index is about 4.

    • bradford

      Jan 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

      If you’re hitting the middle of the club face, the new technology does very little. There’s a lot of “data” out there designed to sell clubs, but the fact is average driving distance on the pro level has only increased by ~20 yards (probably less) in the last 30 years, and most of that is due to the ball. The increase seen from amateurs is usually due to matching a more forgiving club to someone who makes poor or inconsistent contact. I play to an 8 or 9 and I still get a kick out of 20+ handicappers that believe they have a solid grasp on their driver distance. If they told me “I hit the ball between 190 and 250.” I’d believe that. Most will tell you they hit it “Ya know 270 on a good day…”, and that means one day in a simulator they hit that number one time-ever. Now it’s their “average”.

  16. Lowell

    Jan 13, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I believe that in order for this to hold true with regards to losing distance with age, the golfer must then use the same golf club for the entirety of his golf career. In seeing golfers actually adding distance is more to advancement in technology that has helped. So as a result you are finding those who have aged also picking up yardage. Now if they were to stick with the persimmon or steel head drivers of the past then I would be in total agreement. As for now, with lighter shafts that launch lower with a better launch angle, who knows, we might actually see another slight increase in distance in relation to age.

  17. LY

    Jan 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I’m almost 61 and have not lost much distance since the age of 50. What I do everyday is swing a 5lb. golf club 50 times a day. You would be surprised how much that helps with distance, strength and flexability.

    • Phil E

      Apr 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      I will be 61 in a few months, 5’2″ 120lbs. single digit golfer. Still very flexible. 5yrs ago: 101mph ss, 3yrs ago: 98mph ss. Just came from Dick’s for a regripping (played about 80 rounds 2014). While waiting used monitor (the real one, little metal box)> Was bummed. Avg. ss 90mph, carry distance 206, total 232 yds. Did hit a few 93-95mph 228 carry 250 total yds. Only a few years ago was 238 carry(max) 262total yds. 4/13/15 (mon.) played 40holes next day 26holes (riding). 4/15/15 went to Dick’s. Could fatigue have played a role? I stopped playing ice hockey (laced em up 6 times in the past year). Any thoughts, I’m bummed!

  18. WarrenPeace

    Jan 7, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Advice for all you aging older players- spend 80% of your practice time chipping and putting…..the great equalizer. Injuries will take their toll on you hitting too many range balls so shadow swing slow at home instead making the correct moves…you’ll be amazed how much more connected and better contact you will make on course without the wear and tear of whacking balls. I love hitting balls and practice honestly but the joints take a beating hitting 100-200 balls. Be smart about your body.

  19. WarrenPeace

    Jan 7, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    These numbers are for regular old people that have given into the low T BS! Now days people are in better shape and have healthy active lifestyles that enable them to retain both strength and flexibility. I will be 60 in April and while I hit it about 240 in my competitive 20’s (persimmon and balata), and with the new equipment, I hit it 250-280 now. My friends who are 50-60 all hit it past me so I agree with Gary Player- it’s about moving, staying active and eating correctly. FYI- We all walk most rounds while the fat boys are riding the carts drinking their beer. That’s the difference.

  20. Lancebp

    Jan 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Something seems drastically wrong with some of these comments. I’m 65, I’ve played for 50 years. I was never a long hitter. In the persimmon era, 225 (carry and roll) was my standard. Today, at 65, I use a highly accurate radar unit, average about 97 mph and occasionally reach a legitimate 100. I have no question my clubhead speed at 65 is higher than it was at 40, and it’s not because I’m a walking miracle. I suppose 1 mph lost for every year after 50 might be true if you also get fatter, weaker and lazier every year after 50 too.

  21. Golfraven

    Jan 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    things just go downhill when you turn 40. I better start my excercise routine like Gary Player otherwise I see no tomorrow. Maybe my Orange Whip will help me maintaining or gaining the extra MPH. However I think that length is not everything. you become a refined player with age just like good wine.

  22. Jim

    Jan 7, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Getting old simply “sucks.” In two months I’ll turn 65. At 63 I spent the summer fighting a kidney stone for two months ending in surgery. I only played three rounds the entire summer and they were all in May. The following summer I was astonished at how much eye-hand coordination I had lost. I suddenly couldn’t hit my Mizuno MP-32’s with any consistency and my 7-iron which was automatically dialed in at 150 yards was playing at least 10 yards shorter. Even my wedges were coming up short by at least a club. I don’t even want to talk about driver distance fading away.
    My wife did buy me a new set of Titleist AP1’s as well as Ping G25 driver, 5-wood and 20 and 23-degree hybrids. I struggled through most of last summer getting used to my new game, but still enjoyed playing. My drives now average about 220. My longest drive in early September was 240, but that was a perfectly struck ball. And I am forgetting to mention that I now play optic yellow balls because I truly can’t see white balls any more (thanks to 20 years of staring at computer monitors for 12 hours a day).
    I still love the game immensely and have found the Ping metals are keeping me in the fairway consistently. I also rely much more on my short game, especially putting, to keep me in the mid-80’s. And the young pups I play with, who are still in their 50’s, still demand that I play from the blues with them. I simply hit a lot more hybrids and 5-woods into the long Par-3’s now.
    The same thing will likely happen to most of you reading this right now. You’ll get discouraged at first, learn to accept it and finally, if you truly love this great game as I do, you’ll adapt to reality and change your game and expectations so that you still love playing and practicing all summer long. As an old hockey player, golf is still the best game ever invented.

    • Golfraven

      Jan 7, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      The worst thing is when wifes start to buy improvement clubs for you. Length can only maintained through practice so no wonder you were short after short after a serious heath break.

  23. Dana Upshaw

    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    It’s been my experience being a professional fitter for over 20 years that just about EVERYONE starts losing clubhead speed at the rate of 1mph per year at age 50. It’s just part of the natural slowing down process in everything we do. It’s a gradual process that is imperceptible in the short term, but the cumulative effect is great. As we age, we talk slower, we walk slower, we chew slower, we swing slower. And while 1mph doesn’t seem like a lot, 15 years down the road the cumulative effect is 15mph and a loss of 35-45 yards with a driver and 20-30 with an iron. Combined together, the second shot PW of yesteryear is now a 4-5 iron. In 20 years of watching my clientele age I’ve had ONE 68 year-old golfer who has maintained his clubhead speed and ONE 72 year-old golfer who actually gained 4mph. Everyone else has decayed at 1mph per year once over 50. Add in the effects of not-so-good impact conditions and misfit clubs and the yardage “rollback” can be severe enough to discourage the staunchest curmudgeon from playing as much as they’d desire. Unfortunately, for most folks that just the way it is and without significant dedication to strength and flexibility training and lessons they will never recapture the speed of their glory days.

    • JOEL GOODMAN

      Jan 7, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      I’LL BE 80 IN JULY AND HIT MY DRIVES 210-220 REGULARLY AND A 4 IRON IS MY 175 YD CLUB. MOST OF THE GUYS MY AGE CAN’T COME CLOSE TO ME BUT THE YOUNG STUDS FLY THEIR 7 IRONS PAST MY 4 IRON. IS THERE ANY REAL WAY I CAN RESUME MY YOUNGER DAYS PERFORMANCE, WHERE I WAS 30-40 YARDS LONGER?? I PLAY 5 DAYS A WEEK 52 WEEKS A YEAR. LIVE IN SOUTH FLORIDA. NO STEROIDS, PLEASE…….

    • Tom Kelly

      Jan 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      I think your comment “Combined together, the second shot PW of yesterday is now a 4-5 iron.” to be totally accurate. The data Jacob Bowden sites from the various tours is taken from the records of the best players in the world. Stronger lofts, longer clubs, more forgiving heads and wonderful balls have enabled older players to retain some of that lost distance. Those that disagree should get access to a Trackman and see what really is happening. There are a few lucky people with unusual genes that don’t lose speed. A very, very few lucky people…

  24. talljohn777

    Jan 7, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Flexibility is the number one reason for club head speed going down. If you can maintain flexibility your club head speed will not drop of dramatically.

  25. Plane

    Jan 7, 2015 at 3:46 am

    We used to say, we lost 10 yards every 10 years! But that was with the old equipment before the giant headed drivers and super-duper balls came into play.
    Amazing what technology can give us now.

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  27. Steve

    Jan 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I remember as a kid we would take our top hand pinky off the grip and rest it on the butt. Essentially making the club longer. Hit it farther lose some accuracy. It does work try it. Never heard anyone mention it, but was common practice when I was young

  28. Zak

    Jan 6, 2015 at 2:04 am

    So at 25 y/o I haven’t peaked with my distance yet? Nice to know!

  29. David

    Jan 5, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    I still hit long drives at age 44. To me the biggest factors as we age would be how well we have taken care of our backs (or if we have sustained a back injury during our life) and maintaining flexibility as we age. Additionally, since some studies indicate that many men experience drops in testosterone levels as they age that may also be a contributing factor to loss in clubhead speed due to muscle atrophy and loss of overall strength.

  30. Tom Kelly

    Jan 5, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    A wonderful article. At 71 I can still swing a 44.5″ driver 96 to 100 mph. At 49 I could swing a 43.5″ Dynamic shafted persimmon driver 106 to 110 mph and thought about trying to play on the senior tour. I blamed the loss of speed as I aged to injury and drugs related to cancer. The answer is much more simple. As ‘Archie Bunker’ suggests, the answer is going forward and for club events, to have more divisions in tournaments by age. And maybe we’d get more older players to continue to play competitive golf. Trying to play against 30 year old players who are hitting six clubs less at greens makes for a long day.

    • Rich

      Jan 5, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      Tom, I’m not saying that people don’t lose distance with age (I know I have) but since when has age and how far you hit have anything to do with what your score is? I play golf with a guy who is 10 years older than me (he’s early 50’s and I’m early 40’s) and he doesn’t come anywhere near me with the driver. His handicap is 3-4 shots less than mine and most weeks he would run rings around me because he manages HIS own game so well. He doesn’t hit the ball as well as me but he plays better golf. This is the essence of our game, not making sure I’m hitting it as far as the bloke I’m playing with. Golf is about the score, not now far you hit it.

      • christian

        Jan 6, 2015 at 2:14 am

        All else being equal, the longer player wins.

        • Rich

          Jan 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm

          Maybe, but you don’t win just because of your length. If the rest of your game is not in shape, length means nothing. If you can’t putt or manage your game, it doesn’t matter how far you hit it. Just ask Nicholas Colsarts or Alvaro Quiros. Very long bombers but not winning at the moment.

          • Regis

            Jan 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm

            Although some of your points are well taken the fact remains that all other things being equal (short game, putting, fundamentals remaining intact)if you lose 15%-20% of your distance as you age that driver wedge combo on that 320yds opening hole becomes driver/7 iron and it gets worse as the holes get longer. And forget going for any par 5 in two.

        • RG

          Jan 7, 2015 at 4:58 am

          Sounds good, but hard to prove. I think club and shot selection have a lot more to do with it.

      • Tom Kelly

        Jan 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm

        I agree that length isn’t the only thing. But, increasingly on the various tours, you see that the consistent money winners rank high on distance. You also see extremely good players try to make swing changes for more distance – Luke Donald certainly comes to mind. The story from 70 years ago about Sam Snead playing Paul Runyon in a PGA match play championship where Snead outhit Runyon by 50 yards but still lost supports your position. But Runyon’s are invisible today at all tour levels. As Christian says, all else being equal, the longer player wins.

        • Rich

          Jan 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm

          Fair enough but when is all else equal? Hardly ever if at all. I don’t understand this fascination, wait, infatuation people have with distance. Your point (along with Christians) might be more relevant on tour but in our world of social golf and club competitions, it means diddly squat. I guess I don’t think of tour pros as being relevant to me and the way I play (except for the entertainment of watching them play) because they play a game of golf that is unrecognisable to me. They are another universe.

        • Rich

          Jan 6, 2015 at 11:07 pm

          BTW, I think Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson might have something to say about being invisible………….

  31. other paul

    Jan 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I just bought into Jaacobs speed swinging program and I am noticing a difference and its only been a week. Should get go 110MPH this month. Maybe more. Just hit 4 of my longest drives ever. Measured, 284,284,286,286. Goal is 310 a month from now. Want to average 290 or better.

  32. Big Mike

    Jan 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Turned 58 two days before Thanksgiving. SS has dropped from 112-114 to 104-109 or so. Still can hit the ball very well off the tee and last week hit a couple approaching 300. No doubt I’ve slowed but can still keep up with many guys younger than me. Started a new workout regimen on my birthday and am getting stronger, more flexible, etc.

  33. Barney Adams

    Jan 5, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Jaacob. You stop data at 69 yrs. those of us past 70 or god forbid 75. We dead?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 5, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Haha, no, there just wasn’t really any data for Tour players at that age range. Would be curious to see, though.

  34. Steve St Clair

    Jan 5, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    I love it when the young (read: less than 50) make statements about what the old can accomplish with more stretching and strengthening. I have yet to see any data that suggest that stretching and strengthening have any more beneficial effects for older golfers than for younger golfers.

  35. Randy Dandy

    Jan 5, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Is this another one of those foolish ideas brought on by Monty’s fallacies and misconceptions on the golf swing ? He is so far off in right field that dude

  36. Martin

    Jan 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Well you guys who are middle aged body builders are impressive.

    I’m a middle aged 51 year old with bad knees and have gone from 105-108 in my 20’s and 30’s to low 90’s at 51.

    A little over 10% drop in club head speed, but I make much better contact now with big drivers etc.

    I suspect the article is correct, my knees would make me about 65 in dog years.

  37. moses

    Jan 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I got into weight lifting at the age of 36. Been doing it about 3-4 times a week and at the age of 50 I am much stronger now than when I was in my 20’s. I still swing around 110. Sam’s right. Age is just a number to a certain degree and it is what you make of it.

  38. enrique

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I hit the ball much further at 46 than I did at 30 – and I’ve played golf since I was 18.

    It’s all about health. My buddy is 61 years old and a 6’2″ lean workout freak. Runs and lifts regularly. He hits the ball a mile. He hits it further now than he did in his 40’s. We’ve had this conversation.

    • kev

      Jan 5, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      you both hit it further because of ball, shaft, and clubhead evolution.

      • enrique

        Jan 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

        Not true. I still have my 983k that I break out sometimes. My club head speed is faster and I actually use stiffer shafts than I used to.

  39. davepelz4

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    You might need to change his name…it’s Sam Bryant Jr. as opposed to Sam Bright.

  40. Mnmlist Golfr

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    What about the introduction of 460cc drivers and multi layer golf balls?
    Champions Tour players such as Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, Billy Andrade, etc were 20 yards longer in 2014 than they were in 1994.
    Does the new technology more than make up for losing 10 mph of club head speed?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jan 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Well, the thing is that although the Senior Tour players are benefiting from technology, the regular PGA TOUR players are too.

      In comparing 1994 to 2014, the PGA TOUR player mean went up 27.9 yards from 261.8 to 289.7 (about 10.7%) and the Senior Tour players went up 18.3 yards from 254.6 to 272.9 (about 7.1%).

      So for whatever reason it seems Senior Tour players as a whole are more worse off now than they were before despite the improvements in technology. Interesting.

      • Mnmlist Golfr

        Jan 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

        Thanks for replaying, Jacob.

        1994 PGA Tour players and 2014 PGA Tour players are (for the most) different cohorts.

        If you’re talking about how much distance a player lose with age, then I think you need to look at the SAME players over time, not different players over time.

        A 34 year old Fred Couples averaged 279.9 yds while 54 year old Fred Couples averaged 295.0.
        A 33 year old Kenny Perry averaged 264.9 yds, while 53 year old Kenny Perry averaged 289.4.
        A 30 year old Billy Andrade averaged 258.3 yds, while 50 year old Billy Andrade averaged 282.6.

        I don’t think these three players are the anomalies either. I would say that the vast majority of current Champions Tour players are at least 15 yards longer than they were 20 years ago. Clearly these guys have not lost distance with age.

    • The dude

      Jan 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Just look at CHS….that ends the conversation.

  41. cdvilla

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    At 45, I can’t just roll out of bed and expect to play decent golf. You definitely have to put in work to “maintain” and any strokes that I gain from here on out are going to be through efficiency as opposed to power.

  42. Philip

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Myself, I am going in the opposite direction as I approach 50. A few years ago I was closer to mid 90’s and now I am approaching 115+ as my technique, flexibility, weight, and muscle strength all improve. Lucky I guess that I took a 30 year break from golf and sports after I hurt myself when quite young and haven’t had any recent injuries.

  43. Archie Bunker

    Jan 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    There’s a cure for all that distance loss. It’s called the Senior Tees.

    • Larry Fox

      Jan 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Great point Archie Bunker! But for that to work they have to leave their ego back at the Blue tee!

  44. Pat

    Jan 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    It’s called Manopause, LOL. There is a sharp decrease in test production once a male hits 40. No test means no strength. No strength equals sharp decline in swing speed. I was doing long drive comps in Japan when I was in my mid 20’s. Swing speed was 133mph. I still workout and have a bodybuilding backround, but injuries and age have taken it’s toll. I can still swing 122mph, but it gets harder to maintain every year.

    • Tom Kelly

      Jan 9, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      It is not just testosterone. Fast twitch muscles at the bottom of the shoulder blade create ~80% of club speed. Flexibility and turn maintain speed, not create it. Fast twitch muscles age more rapidly than slow twitch, the reason why dash runners deteriorate more quickly than distance runners.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: 2024 Mexico Open First Round Leader picks

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The Mexico Open begins on Thursday at beautiful Vidanta Vallarta. The tournament will have a full field this week with most of the big names on the PGA Tour taking the week off.

In the past two editions of the tournament, there have been seven first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the seven, six have come from the morning wave. At first glance, there certainly looks to be an advantage to having an early tee time this week in Mexico but with such a small sample size I won’t put too much stock in that and take a balanced approach.

As of Tuesday, the wind doesn’t look as if it will play a factor at all during round one. It will be about hot and sunny for most of the day with wind gusts never exceeding 7 MPH.

This week, I used the Betsperts Rabbit Hole to see each players floor/ceiling. You can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Mexico Open First-Round-Leader Selections

Jhonnatan Vegas +6000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 12:15 p.m. Local Time

After a long injury layoff, it certainly seems as if Jhonnatan Vegas is “back”. In his most recent start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Venezuelan gained 7.2 strokes ball striking, which was his best performance in the category since June of 2022.

Vegas loves playing on Paspalum, and while he struggles with the putter often, he’s been consistent putting on these slow and spongey surfaces. I expect the big man to have a great week in Mexico.

Harry Hall +9000 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:14 a.m. Local Time

While you wouldn’t expect an Englishman in a flat cap to play his best golf in tropical paradises, that’s certainly been the case for the 24-year-old throughout his career thus far. The 6’4″ UNLV product with a soft touch around the greens has shined in places such as Puerto Rico and Puntacana as well as at Vidanta Vallarta last year.

Hall is a fantastic putter, which never will hurt you in the first-round leader market.

Adrien Dumont de Chassart 100-1 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:54 p.m. Local Time

Those who have been following me this season know that I’m high on this 23-year-old bomber from Belgium. With off the tee prowess being a major point of emphasis at Vidanta Vallarta, it makes sense to give him another crack at the first-round lead once again this week.

In his most recent start at TPC Scottsdale, ADDC gained 4.0 strokes off the tee.

Fred Biondi 130-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:47 a.m. Local Time

Fred Biondi recently won a National Championship as a Florida Gator and has loved playing on coastal courses throughout the early part of his career. In the fall, the Brazilian finished 13th at the Butterfield Bermuda and 23rd at the RSM Classic, with both events having fields either stronger or comparable to this one.

Biondi is a good iron player and putter and should be comfortable playing in Mexico.

Scott Piercy 150-1 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:25 a.m. Local Time

Scott Piercy got in the field this week after Will Zalatoris withdrew following a strong performance at the Genesis Invitational. Piercy may be well past his prime, but this is the type of event where the 47-year-old has thrived over the years.

Piercy has been prone to fast starts and has finished in the top-5 after the first round 32 times in his career and has been within two of the lead in the first round 45 times. He’s also been great on Paspalum, boasting finishes of 6th at the 2018 OHL, 7th at the 2015 CIMB Classic and 4th at the 2016 OHL.

Sebastian Vazquez 300-1 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:21 p.m. Local Time

Sebastian Vasquez is a name that many golf fans won’t be familiar with but has played some good golf in South America over the course of his career. At last year’s Mexico Open, Vazquez shot an opening round 67. At last year’s World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Vazquez closed his tournament with a Sunday 64, which was just two shots off the round of the day.

The Mexican has been playing this season on the Gira de Golf Profesional Mexicana and doing so relatively well. He also finished 38th at El Cardonal in a pretty strong PGA Tour field. Vazquez could come out and fire a low one while feeling extremely at ease playing in his home country.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta betting preview: Birdie machine ready to notch first PGA Tour title

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Mexico Open at Vidanta! For the third consecutive year, the PGA TOUR heads to beautiful Puerto Vallarta to play the Mexico Open.

The Greg Norman-designed Vidanta Vallarta is a par-71 measuring 7,456 yards. Prior to its inaugural event, the course was extended by over 250 yards to make it PGA TOUR ready, and there were nine new tee boxes and 106 new bunkers added to stiffen the test for the best players in the world.

The course features three par 5s. Also, the par-4 seventh will be drivable for the longer hitters, but the golfers will have to risk taking on some water if they want to go for it.

The field this week will consist of 132 players. Some notable players in the field include Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Keith Mitchell, Emiliano Grillo, Taylor Pendrith and Thorbjorn Olesen. 

Past Winners at Vidanta Villarta

  • 2023: Tony Finau (-24)
  • 2022: Jon Rahm (-17)

5 Key Stats For Vidanta Villarta

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Vidanta Vallarta to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

1. Driving Distance

At almost 7,500 yards, Vidanta Villarta is a long par 71. The rough shouldn’t be much of a factor this week, which gives the advantage to the long hitters in the field.

Average Driving Distance Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Alejandro Tosti (+311.2)
  2. Sam Stevens (+310.4)
  3. Cameron Champ (+308.1)
  4. Patrick Rodgers (+305.1)
  5. Vincent Norrman (+304.7)

2. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

With the course playing long and greens likely being receptive, elite ball strikers should have an advantage more so than a good short game and strong putting.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jhonnatan Vegas (+1.10)
  2. Erik Van Rooyen (+.95)
  3. Taylor Pendrith (+.86)
  4. Tony Finau (+.81)
  5. Doug Ghim (+.74)

3. Course History

The first two editions of the event have produced plenty of leaderboard similarity. I’m looking to target players who like the golf course. 

Course History over past 8 rounds:

  1. Tony Finau (+4.05)
  2. Brandon Wu (+3.43)
  3. Davis Riley (+2.94)
  4. Cameron Champ (+2.55)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+2.41)

4. Strokes Gained: Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions

Last year, the course played extremely easy, and this is one of the weakest fields we will see this year on the PGA Tour. 

SG: TOT Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions Past 24 Rounds

  1. Erik Van Rooyen (+1.84) 
  2. Mackenzie Hughes (+1.69) 
  3. S.H. Kim (+1.43)
  4. Michael Kim (+1.43)
  5. Tyler Duncan (+1.26)

5. Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean

I’m not exactly sure if this part of Mexico would be considered “Caribbean”, but this statistic brings in all rounds from Corales, the Puerto Rico Open, and the Bermuda Championship, which all have close leaderboard correlation to the Mexico Open. This also brings in courses that feature Paspalum greens.

Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean over past 24 Rounds

  1. Mackenzie Hughes (+3.14)
  2. Tony Finau (+2.73)
  3. Nicolai Hojgaard (+2.40)
  4. James Hahn (+2.35)
  5. Chad Ramey (+2.05)

The Mexico Open at Vidanta Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — Driving Distance (22%), SG: Ball Striking (28%), SG: Paspalum (16%), SG: Total in Weak Fields with Easy Scoring Conditions (16%) and Strokes Gained: Total in Caribbean (16%)

  1. Taylor Pendrith
  2. Erik Van Rooyen
  3. Carl Yuan
  4. Stephan Jaeger
  5. Mark Hubbard
  6. Matti Schmid
  7. Cameron Champ
  8. Vincent Whaley
  9. Ryan Moore
  10. Michael Kim

Mexico Open Picks

(All listed odds are at the time of writing)

Stephan Jaeger +2800 (BetMGM)

Despite not yet winning an event, Stephan Jaeger has been one of the most prolific birdie makers on the PGA Tour. In the field this season, he ranks 5th in the field in Birdie or Better percentage. 13th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 27th in Driving Distance.

Jaeger has had a tough time closing events while in contention, but his recent T3 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in a strong field should have helped him build the necessary scar tissue it takes to win on the PGA Tour. He shot a final round 72 at Torrey Pines, which wasn’t a horrible result, but left him two shots behind eventual champion Mathieu Pavon.

In his two starts at the course, Jaeger has finished 15th and 18th. At this point in his career, he’s one of the most talented players in the field and should have what it takes to earn his first PGA Tour victory.

Keith Mitchell +3500 (DraftKings)

Keith Mitchell took last week off after a strong start to his 2024 campaign. He finished in a tie for 9th at the American Express in January and in a tie for 17th in his most recent start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Over his past 24 rounds, Mitchell ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 21st in Driving Distance in the field.

When betting on events that feature Paspalum greens, I always look to target players who’ve had some success on the surface before, as it is quite unique. Mitchell hasn’t played in a great deal of those events over the past few seasons but does have a 2nd place finish at the Corales Puntacana Championship in 2018, which is a strong signal that he likes the surface and can take advantage of a weak field.

On a golf course where great drivers of the golf ball have a significant advantage, I’ll happily take a shot on Mitchell who’s gained strokes off the tee in every one of his starts this season.

Taylor Pendrith +3500 (DraftKings)

Over the past few seasons, Taylor Pendrith has been fantastic in the weaker field events on coastal tracks. In the fall, he finished 8th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and was 10th a few months ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii. In his past 24 rounds, the Canadian ranks 6th in Strokes Gained: Total in events that have easy scoring conditions and weak fields and 4th in Strokes Gained: Total in the Caribbean.

Vidanta Vallarta is a course where bombers thrive and Pendrith is one of the longer hitters on the PGA Tour. He ranks 19th in the field in Driving Distance as well as 4th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in his past 24 rounds. He also ranks 2ndin the field in Birdie or Better percentage.

In addition to the obvious course fit, Pendrith is starting to play some good golf of late. He finished 9th at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago and has two top 10’s in his last three starts. With fellow Canadian Nick Taylor winning in Phoenix, the 32-year-old will be motivated to get in the winner’s circle in a year where the Presidents Cup will be played in Canada.

Cameron Champ +6500 (FanDuel)

Cameron Champ has become one of my favorite players to bet in the outright market over the years due to his volatility. In most circumstances, volatility is a bad thing in the gambling world, but in outright betting, it’s a trait that I target. Champ finishes at the bottom of the leaderboard far more often than he finishes at the top, but he wins golf tournaments at a much higher clip than his odds indicate.

One of the courses on Tour that Champ fits the most is Vidanta Vallarta. The 28-year-old absolutely pummels the ball and the course is set up for players who can get it out there off the tee. He ranks 4th in Driving Distance in the field and also ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Total for the first two editions of the Mexico Open at Vidanta.

By any metric, Champ is a poor putter on just about every surface, with one notable exception: Paspalum. He gains an average of .4 strokes per event on Paspalum as opposed to losing roughly .3 strokes on other surfaces.

Many will be concerned with Champ’s horrible start to 2024 where he’s missed the cut in all four of his starts. However, last season, Champ missed the cut in eight straight events prior to finishing 8th at the Mexico Open.

Close your eyes and bet it. Embrace the volatility.

Jhonnatan Vegas +8000 (BetRivers)

Jhonnatan Vegas is one of my favorite players to bet on and I’m ecstatic to find a spot on the schedule that should suit the Venezuelan remarkably.

After an injury hiatus, Vegas is back playing consistent golf and has shown some flashes of his ceiling in his most recent start. At the Waste management Phoenix Open, the two-time Olympian finished 22nd and gained 7.2 two strokes ball striking comprised of 3.8 strokes off the tee and 3.2 on approach.

Coastal Paspalum is a surface Vegas has thrived at over the years. The 39-year-old has finishes 2nd (2021 Puerto Rico Open) and 4th (2022 Corales Puntacana) on Paspalum and should be extremely comfortable with the putter this week.

In his past 24 rounds, Vegas ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in the field and 22nd in Driving Distance. The big man will be letting it rip off the tee in Mexico this week.

Harry Hall +130000 (BetRivers)

Harry Hall has absolutely feasted on Paspalum greens over the course of his PGA Tour career. The Englishman absolutely loves playing on the coast and a good deal of his best finishes have come on this surface, including the 2023 Puerto Rico Open (7th), the 2023 Mexico Open (10th) 2023 Corales (13th), and the 2022 Great Exuma (19th).

Hall finished 10th at the event last year and arrives after a solid tied for 41st finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. We’ve seen longshots win this season with a hot putter and Hall is one of the best putters in the field.

Adrien Dumont De Chassart +20000 (FanDuel)

Adrien Dumont De Chassart is a young up-and-coming player I’ve committed to betting early in the 2024 season. That approach will certainly come with ebbs and flows but in the end, I am betting on the talent of the 23-year-old.

The Belgian possesses arguably the most desired trait in order to contend this week in Mexico: At his best, he’s an elite talent off the tee. ADDC gained 4.0 strokes off the tee in his last start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and should be able to let his drive loose at Vidanta Vallarta this week.

De Chassart is a proven winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and has the upside to take advantage of a weaker field this week in Mexico.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Golf mastery begins with your wedge game

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I’ve written multiple times about just how challenging this game is to learn. Nowhere else in life is the human body required to go through such a complex sequence of motions anywhere near this level of difficulty.

From learning how to properly hold a golf club and position your body in the right way to set up a fundamentally sound golf swing, to understanding the sequence of motions that get you to the top of the backswing, to executing a reverse sequence of motions through impact into the follow-through, well, there is just nothing else you do in life that is even remotely close.

I have always been fascinated by the technique aspect of the game, and thoroughly enjoy visiting with experienced teaching professionals, sharing ideas and concepts of how to help golfers in the most efficient manner. Recently, I made my 41st annual trip to the PGA Show in Orlando and had the opportunity to interact with a number of both old and new acquaintances, wherein we engaged in discussions about the best way to help golfers learn.

It is essentially inarguable that each position you pass through in the golf swing is a direct result of the position you passed through immediately prior, and each position will determine what happens next. In essence, the golf swing is a constant reminder that “you can’t get “there” from “here.”

An improper hold on the golf club completely prohibits the ability of the wrists to hinge and rotate correctly throughout the swing. While you can see some subtle differences in grips on the professional tours, those are limited to a preference for overlap vs. interlock style and slight variations in how strong or weak the hands are rotated. But all accomplished players hold the club in essentially the same way.

Likewise, a fundamentally unsound posture and ball position effectively prevent the body from moving in a way as to affect a sound takeaway, transition, and downswing/follow-through. Again, if you watch professional golfers, you’ll see only slight variations in posture and ball position, other than the changes based on the club they are about to hit. The slight differences you do see are mostly as an accommodation for varying heights – a 6’3” golfer simply cannot take the same posture at address as a 5’6” golfer, given that their club length for any given shot is very close to the same. [NOTE:  The length and lie specifications of tour player clubs do not vary nearly as much as you see coming out of the “custom-fitting” world.]

Finally, what your body core, arms and hands, and the golf club are doing through the impact zone is really not that much different in a 30-yard pitch shot than they are in a full swing 8-iron shot – the range of motion is just smaller and slower.

So, the point of today’s post is this: If you will learn to master the core fundamentals of the 30-yard basic pitch shot, your entire golf game will benefit.

There are a ton of good instructional videos to help you fully understand how the body and club work together on a routine pitch shot, so I strongly encourage you to watch, mimic, and learn. And for those of you who are “snowed in” for the coming weeks or months, the best way to learn this is in slow motion, without a ball in the way.

Almost all teaching professionals agree that a new and improved motion technique needs to be understood and learned before you put a ball into the equation. The key is lots of reps without worrying about ball impact. The ball is an intimidator to your focus on making the correct move — if a ball is there, your goal becomes to “hit the ball,” rather than to execute the proper sequence of motions you are trying to learn.

So, if you really want to get better through the bag, commit to learning how to execute a solid, repeating technique for 30-yard pitch shots.

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